This article describes a heat store designed to collect energy from a solar air heater. The air heater is to be located below the heat store, and is to supply warm air to it by natural convection. The intended general arrangement of the solar air heater and the heat store are described in reference . The heat store requires a large thermal mass, a large mass-air surface area for heat transfer, and low resistance to air flow. I propose a heat store having two constituent heat-storing masses. One of the constituents, a very permeable stack of concrete building blocks, has a large concrete-air heat-transfer surface area and a small thermal mass. The other constituent, a stack of drums of water, has a large thermal mass and a small drum-air heat-transfer surface area. Both constituents share a single insulation envelope and operate within a single unpartitioned volume of air. For carefully chosen circumstances, the performance of the two-component heat store should be similar to the performance of a heat store having the sum of the surface areas and the sum of the thermal masses of the two constituent heat storing masses. This composite concrete-water heat store requires much less mass and space than a heat store constructed from either concrete or water alone.
During the day the temperature of the concrete blocks will rise faster than the temperature of the water. During the night, the concrete blocks transfer heat slowly by convection and radiation to the water drums. Because the concrete blocks will give up heat more easily to cool air than will the water drums, the concrete blocks also supply most of the daily heat needs of the building and most of the daily heat losses from the heat store. As the temperature of the water drum mass rises, the temperature of the concrete block mass cools to meet it, and becomes ready for efficient absorption of heat from the solar air heater the next day. (The concrete thermal mass and the ratio of concrete surface to drum surface must be sized to make this true.) The temperature of the concrete mass will descend below the temperature of the water mass if the night-time heat withdrawals and losses from the heat store are large enough. The water drums will become the main source of heat output only when the temperature of concrete is distinctly less than the temperature of the water.
The exhange of energy between the concrete and the water does, of course, degrade that energy, decreasing the stratification gradient of the heat store. This internal entropy creation will be reasonably limited during a sequence of average sun days, when the temperature of the water drums will remain high and nearly constant. The greatest rate of entropy creation will occur when the concrete is much hotter than the water drums, as will happen on good sun days following a sequence of very poor sun days. But in these circumstances, the much greater surface area of the concrete will ensure that much of the high quality heat winds up in the house (if the house needs it) rather than in the water.
Consider a heat store having both a concrete block stack and a water drum stack. Let the concrete block stack have a mass equal to twice the mass of the water, in which case 2/3 of the heat store mass is concrete and 1/3 water. Let the block stack and the drum stack occupy roughly equal areas of the floor of the heat store.
Since concrete has a specific heat close to 1/5 the specific heat of water, and the mass of concrete has twice the mass of the water, the concrete block stack contributes 2/7 of the total thermal mass, and the water contributes 5/7 of the total thermal mass of the heat store. If a second heat store contains only concrete blocks, and since concrete blocks form 2/3 of the mass of the concrete-water heat store, the mass of the concrete-only heat store can not be less than 7/2*2/3 = 14/6 = 2-1/3 times the mass of the concrete-water heat store if it is to provide at least as much thermal mass as the concrete-water heat store. Since concrete occupies half the floor space of the concrete-water heat store, the concrete-only heat store must occupy at least 7/2 * 1/2 = 7/4 = 1-3/4 times the floor area of the concrete-water heat store..
The concrete block stack of the concrete-water heat store has 5 times as much surface area in contact with air as the water drum stack of half its mass. (This ratio may be achieved as shown in the detailed design presented below.) The concrete blocks therefore provide 5/6 of the total heat-transfer surface area of the concrete-water heat store, and the water drums provide 1/6 of the heat-transfer surface area. If a third heat store were to contain only drums of water, and since water forms 1/3 of the mass of the concrete-water heat store, the mass of the water-only heat store could not be less than 6 *1/3 = 2 times the total mass of the concrete-water heat store if it is to provide the same heat-transfer surface area as the concrete-water heat store. Since water drums occupy half the floor space of the concrete-water heat store, the water-only heat store occupies at least 6*1/2 = 3 times the floor area occupied by the concrete-water heat store.
A suitable concrete block stack, shown below, is described in detail in reference .
|Mass||8276 lbm = 3762 kg||19776 lbm = 8989 kg||28052 lbm = 12751 kg|
|Thermal mass||8276 Btu/F = 15725 kJ/C||3411 Btu/F = 7910 kJ/C||11687 Btu/F = 23636 kJ/C|
|Surface area||323 ft2 = 30.0 m2||1954 ft2 = 182 m2||2277 ft2 = 212 m2|
|Floor area||50.4 ft2 = 5.48 m2||59 ft2 = 5.5m2||109.4 ft2 = 11.0 m2|
ratio to total
ratio to total
ratio to total
ratio to total
The two stacks described above might be used in combinations of several of each of the two kinds of stack. Such combinations can achieve greater surface area and thermal mass with the same ratio as above, or different ratios of surface area to thermal mass. Here is the floor plan of a heat store that might be seen in a house built according to the ideas described in reference .
It will be important not to overload the heat store. An air heater capacity suitable for December in Ottawa will certainly overload the heat store in February. Seasonal shading will have to be provided for the air heater. Some form of emergency heat dumping may have to be provided.
air flow between a thermosyphon solar air heater and a thermal mass
located above it, David Delaney, October 24, 2003
 William A. Shurcliff, "New inventions in low-cost solar heating--100 daring schemes tried and untried", p. 184, Brick House Publishing Company, 1979, Andover, Mass
 For a significant improvement on the physical arrangement of the
two components of the two-part heat store, see Thermal
mass of drums of water on top of a stack of concrete blocks, David
Delaney, November 23, 2003
For the context of this work, see Solar thermal energy for housing home
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